Google has made fundamental progress in its relations with newspapers in recent months, said Vice President Philipp Schindler. "We come in peace," he said at the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg, Germany. "I fundamentally believe that we will have a mutually beneficial relationship going forward," he added.
Google's role in the newspaper crisis has been misunderstood, Schindler said. The blame for newspapers' struggling business models lies with "a consumer trend accelerated by a revolution in technology," rather than with Google, he insisted. He asked if the audience actually believes that if Google were to disappear tomorrow, would anyone develop significantly more revenue? He insisted that Google is always happy to respect copyright.
Schindler discussed the major trends he sees in the media right now, first stressing the massive amounts of information that are currently being generated: roughly the same amount every two days that was generated in the entire history of humanity until 2003. And consumption echoes this trend - about four billion searches are conducted every day, and about two billion videos are streamed on YouTube.
In light of this, Schindler said, search sensitivity and recommendation-based navigation are big trends, as is a movement towards richer media.
A highly significant trend is the mobile revolution. However, while most people concentrate on what happening in terms of devices, Schindler believes that the "really interesting developments" are in terms of productivity and the potential of cloud computing. So much information hosted elsewhere can now be accessed on mobile devices that they are becoming more and more powerful.
"Don't bet against mobile in any way," Schindler emphasised, "this is going to be bigger and faster than anyone imagines." He pointed out that Google's developers are all excited to build products for mobile first. Evidently, the question for newspapers is, will all these mobile users be readers?
On content monetisation, Schindler said that he doesn't think there will be a single model, but "multiple, multiple models" in the future. "We have a very high interest in having high quality content out there, and we want it to be monetised in a fair way," he said. "It is going to be Google's role to support the industry with the technologies to create a seamless experience," he explained.
An interesting point that Schindler highlighted was that we might be on the verge of "solving the world's translation problem." He called on the audience to imagine a world where a person could read every website automatically translated, and even speak on the phone with automatic translation. For newspapers, this would mean possibly having the chance to "discover a true global audience." Newspapers might find readers on the other side of the world who truly care about their niche, if they are given the chance to seamlessly access this sort of information, he said.
When asked about what the company's number one competitor was, Schindler replied that it was not Apple or Facebook, but the next start up, "the next group of talented young people who come up with a great idea in our area."